It is so much easier to think about changing the world than about changing one’s self.
Thoughts about changing the world have built-in excuses while those about changing self do not…except maybe denial.
To confront self with its shortcomings is the responsibility of every human being. No matter how good a person believes their self to be, good can always become better.
Many try to change others to fit their own needs or expectations, particularly in committed relationships; male dominance is a major example and sometimes female dominance.
It takes a long time for some people to realize no one can change another person. Only a self can change a self. Perhaps that is why healthy enduring marriages involve those who have learned how to live with the differences that just do not go away.
Still, a self can change if self wishes to do so. But that, of course, takes work. Confronting one’s habits requires conscious effort, first of all, to recognize and admit them, then find the stamina to change years, perhaps lifetimes of behaviors.
“I am always running late,” Claire said, “ and I would love to know what it feels like for me to be on time. So would my husband.”
I side-tracked the obvious question, “What’s in it for you being late?” and asked instead, “What would it take to find out?”
She laughed and said, “Big Ben for a brain.”
“Not a bad idea,” I said. You can always reset your inner clock.”
“You’ve gotta be kidding, right?”
“Not at all. I can’t do it for you but why not set it ten or fifteen minutes before an appointment? A nine o’clock meeting? Make it eight forty-five.”
Claire became suddenly serious. “Could that work?” She asked.
“Worth a try, at least,” I replied.
Two weeks later, Claire was radiant with success. “Big Ben and I have become best friends.” she said right away. “I’ve only been late three times this week, but not by much. Thanks for the suggestion.”
Changing self is rarely that simple but the point is: it needs to be an inside job. Larger problems are not laughable. Addictions, obsessive-compulsive disorders and the like need far more than a Big Ben image to resolve.
But self- confrontation is essential. Also, one needs to change self, not to please others but ultimately to better self. That is why going inside, like trading a brain for Big Ben, worked for Claire.
Being human means many times coming up short, but being human should never discourage a self from reaching for what is better which many times surprises with what is best.